A greener house in the Magnolia neighborhood is fit for man and beast
A shower remodel in a 1940s Seattle house morphed into a full-on makeover with energy efficiency and green construction as top priorities. Now the house has cleaner lines, numerous green features and a wood deck and tile shower fit for both homeowner and his trusty dog, Spiff.
The details, green and more
Architect: Grace Huang, ming | architecture and design
Contractor: Jon Alexander, Sunshine Construction
Cost: $600,000 purchase price; another $435,000 for remodeling
• Sun tubes: Three-foot-long, reflective tubes bring outside light into the house and save on electricity. The tubes are more efficient than skylights because the glass is thick and has a small surface area. Looks like an overhead light.
• Outside cistern: A 960-gallon tank collects rainwater for watering plants and flowers.
• Deck: Made out of salvaged wood from Bellingham. It is mounted into the ground using an innovative support system that uses less concrete and doesn't require deep digging.
• Clean air: Only low-toxic paints and finishes; no carpeting or vinyl flooring.
• Windows: Made from high-efficiency, triple-pane fiberglass. Shades help keep the living room cool when sun pours in from the West.
• Green materials: Luk used only wood, natural linoleum and cork for his floors, durable paper-and-resin kitchen countertops and energy-star appliances. Bathroom floor and shower tiles made locally from recycled glass.
FOR MAGNOLIA resident Andy Luk, it's always been about his dog, Spiff. The massive mutt is as much a fixture in Luk's home as his collection of Asian- and nature-inspired artwork and delicate antique furniture.
The reason Luk found his hillside home in the first place? Spiff. Almost a decade ago, Luk was taking Spiff out to walk in Discovery Park, but made a wrong turn and ended up passing the house with its for-sale sign out front.
And the reason Luk chose to remodel? Again, Spiff. Luk, a rheumatologist, originally decided he just wanted to enlarge his bathroom shower so he could easily bathe Spiff, who weighs in at 80 pounds.
But with remodels, things don't always go as planned.
After starting with the shower, Luk soon concluded he really wanted to make his 1940s home more livable and energy-efficient, and to do all that without adding any square footage. Aware that previous owners had built awkward additions, he was also hoping to give his home a better sense of continuity and style. But above all, he wanted to make the house overlooking Puget Sound more environmentally friendly.
"My environmental consciousness had been slowly evolving over the last 10 years or so, so energy efficiency was something I wanted to address," Luk says.
He went ahead with a number of improvements, including making the bottom floor cozy with cork floors and a gas fireplace, carving out space for a library, and integrating a deep bathtub and larger shower into his master bath.
To conserve energy, Luk chose more insulation, solar ceiling tubes that let in natural light, dual-flush toilets and an outside cistern to capture and reuse rainwater. He added 12 solar panels, high-efficiency windows and a better heating system.
He also went to great lengths to use locally made materials as well as salvage from other buildings.
Luk's passion for playing piano moved him to design a new deck resembling the shape of his favorite instrument. The house sits on a steep slope covering three buildable lots, but Luk chose to keep the home smaller so he could preserve open space overlooking Puget Sound. He is replacing invasive plants with native ferns and shrubs to help stabilize the slope.
Michelle Ma is a Seattle writer. John Lok is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.